Inside Quantum Technology

IonQ unveils two new quantum computers fit for data center deployment

IonQ's new Fore Enterprise system will be much smaller than previous-generation quantum computers. (Source: IonQ)

IonQ this week unveiled its latest quantum computer models, two rack-mounted systems designed to help quantum computing become smoothly integrated into existing data center environments.

The formal announcements come after IonQ has for months been discussing technology roadmap plans that included goals for achieving 35 Algorithmic Qubits (#AQ35) next year and #AQ64 in 2025. The machines matching those milestones will be the #AQ35 Forte Enterprise and the #AQ64 Tempo.

The Forte Enterprise takes the first half of its name from IonQ’s existing #AQ29 Forte quantum computer, while the second half is a nod to where it will be deployed and how it is expected to be used. IonQ CEO Peter Chapman, in announcing the new systems this week at Quantum World Congress in Northern Virginia, said Forte Enterprise is “enterprise-grade” and suitable for data center deployment.

“It’s a rack mounted system,” he said. “It fits with your standard data center so you don’t need to build a new building for your quantum computer. It has all the electrical and AC specifications that are found in standard data centers today.”

Chapman further commented on the company’s motivation to design smaller-form-factor systems, saying, “This [Forte Enterprise] is 40% smaller than the previous generation system. So, in every generation we’re working on getting smaller and why is that? Well, because smaller is also a predictor of cost, and we all know we’re going to get to a point where you can’t put more qubits onto a chip, and if you want to do more with a quantum computer you’ll have to go to a network and have multiple systems.”

He added that Forte Enterprise is designed to address complex computational problems for enterprises, including process optimization, quantum machine learning, correlation analysis, and pattern recognition. 

The IonQ Tempo, meanwhile, could have an even bigger impact, as Chapman said this is the company’s first system that will far exceed what can be simulated with classical computers and GPUs, and provide a computational space 536 million times larger than even IonQ Forte Enterprise. Chapman numerous times in the past has stated that #AQ64 could represent a tipping point in quantum computer adoption by enterprises because it will allow them to accomplish things they can’t on current classical computing systems.

“When I joined IonQ [more than four years ago] this is the machine that I joined for, one that would be able to show real value of a quantum computer to customers,” Chapman said.

Forte Enterprise and Tempo both can be ordered now, with the former due out to be available in with the next 12 months and the latter in about 18 months. Chapman revealed that the IonQ systems involved in a previously announced sale of two systems to Switzerland’s QuantumBasel are in fact one Forte Enterprise and one Tempo.

He added that both new machines would be manufactured at the company’s new plant in the Seattle area, which IonQ now has staffed up to about 50 employees. Chapman further compared the plant to a Henry Ford-style assembly line. “We’re building multiple systems at a time,” he said.

In other IonQ news, Chapman also announced that the company had won a $25.5 million contract for the Air Force Research Laboratory. More details will follow in a separate story.

Image: IonQ’s new Fore Enterprise system will be much smaller than previous-generation quantum computers. (Source: IonQ)

Dan O’Shea has covered telecommunications and related topics including semiconductors, sensors, retail systems, digital payments and quantum computing/technology for over 25 years.

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